Thanks to Ian Murray and his website (http://www.operation-ladbroke.com/) I have more information about my cousin Horace and his fate during the glider operation that led the invasion of Sicily during WWII.
Ian has posted an article that identifies which Glider Horace flew in, and even provides a few details of his last moments.
Reading Ian’s article gave me a goose-bump moment equalled only by the time I finally found Horace and Albert after a year of searching for the “Maurice” and “Alfred” my dad had spoken of.
Horace was a passenger in Glider 70, one of the American WACOs brought in to supplement the larger British Horsa that couldn’t be supplied in large enough numbers. The glider was towed from the El Djem airfield in Tunisia, destined for Sicily as part of Operation Ladbroke.
On approaching the destination, landing zone 2, (LZ2), trying to avoid enemy flak, the tow-plane turned away from the designated release zone and the glider was set loose too far from land and came down a few miles off shore.
Even though the glider floated, after exiting, some of the men couldn’t regain contact with it due to rough waters. Horace was one of those and he was heard calling for help before finally falling silent.
I suspect that Horace would not have been a strong swimmer. The only swimming pool in his local area would have been the same one I visited as a child 20 or so years later. Visits to the pool were rare and no one in my immediate family became proficient swimmers and I Imagine that in those earlier decades, Horace would have had fewer opportunities for learning to swim than I had.
In all one of Glider 70’s pilots and five others lost their lives, along with more than 250 from other gliders who also drowned.